salicylic acid

The Science Behind It...
Overall clinical data on a specific ingredient(s) & how they function.

Mandelic Acid Vs Salicylic Acid - Which Is Right For Your Skin?

When comparing mandelic acid vs. salicylic acid, it is important to consider your skin care needs, goals, and type.

Both acids can be helpful in improving the appearance of inflammation, provide cleansing and oil balancing benefits, and contribute to an overall brighter-looking complexion. However, some individuals may experience more optimal results with salicylic acid vs. mandelic acid (or vice versa).

It is possible to safely use mandelic acid and salicylic acid together, though you may find that using just one or the other effectively suits your needs.

What Type of Acid is Mandelic Acid?

Mandelic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) made using bitter almond extracts. Because mandelic acid molecules are larger than other widely-used AHAs, such as lactic or glycolic acid, it is a gentler acid that penetrates the skin more slowly.

What Type of Skin is Mandelic Acid Best For?

Mandelic acid is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. It may be a good option for individuals in search of a gentle, chemically-exfoliating acid to:

  • Help minimize the visible signs of hyperpigmentation, acne scarring, and dark spots

  • Support a stronger skin barrier for improved moisture retention and protective properties

  • Create a more radiant, even look to the skin

What Type of Acid is Salicylic Acid?

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) derived from willow bark, and is widely considered among the preferred acids for clarifying congestion and reducing breakouts. Because it is an oil-soluble acid, salicylic acid can penetrate deeply into the pores.

What Type of Skin is Salicylic Acid Best For?

Salicylic acid can be an ideal choice for individuals with oil, acne-prone skin, particularly those who want a BHA that can:

  • Clear congestion from pores

  • Help balance the natural production of oil

  • Help exfoliate the skin to enhance overall brightness

  • Help reduce the appearance of visibly-enlarged pores

Because salicylic acid can contribute to reduced oil production, it may not be the right fit for individuals with already-dry skin.

Is Mandelic Acid or Salicylic Acid Better for Treating Acne?

In terms of the question, “Which is better for acne; salicylic acid or mandelic acid?”, the answer is one that largely comes down to your skin care goals and needs.

Research has suggested that both mandelic acid and salicylic acid can be highly effective acids for supporting an anti-acne skin care regimen; however, each one may be better suited to a specific type of acne. Because salicylic acid is able to deeply penetrate pores to clear congestion, it can be beneficial for improving the appearance of non-inflammatory acne such as blackheads and whiteheads. In contrast, mandelic acid’s ability to support a strengthened skin barrier may make it ideal for individuals with inflammatory acne.

DISCLAIMER: Lab Journals are intended to help educate on specific ingredients and skin care topics. Our articles are written to be informative and informational.
Please note any Naturium products with referenced ingredients are formulated for Cosmetic Use Only and NOT intended as replacements for physician pharmaceutical product recommendations.

Mandelic Topical Acid 12%


30 ML / 1.0 FL OZ Our skin perfecting mandelic serum is formulated with mandelic acid, natural fruit extracts and niacinamide to gently exfoliate a...

View product page

Azelaic Topical Acid 10%


30 ML / 1.0 FL OZ Our azelaic acid serum contains a high concentration of a glycinated azelaic acid complex, along with niacinamide, vitamin C and ...

View product page